Today, our guest in the "Meet Our Teachers" column is Juliana Arenas. She lives and works in Colombia, one of the first countries where our project began operating. Juliana teaches several groups online and is one of our most dedicated associates.
Juliana spoke about what inspires her, about the best way to motivate students, and about what the most important thing is when working as a teacher.
Tell us a little about yourself
My name is Juliana Ramirez Arenas. I am 38 years old. I am not married. I was born in the city of Bucaramanga in the Santander district. I work as a backend developer in finance. I devote my free time to volunteering at charitable foundations.
Why did you decide to teach?
In 2012, I had the opportunity to work as a teacher at the Universidad Autónoma de Bucaramanga. That was the moment my teaching career began. My dad supported me, as he himself had been a teacher for over 40 years.
I like teaching. As a teacher, I work with children and adults, and even with professionals who want to improve their qualifications.
A few years ago I had a very capable student who was having financial difficulties at home. I learned of his situation and found a way to help him so that he wouldn't drop out. I find having the opportunity to help people very inspiring.
What personal qualities should a teacher have?
First of all, compassion. We must always understand that all of our students want to learn new things, that not everyone acquires knowledge in the same way, and that everyone has their own experience of learning. In addition, love for your work, a positive attitude, and listening skills are essential, because you need to find your own approach to each student.
The main rule for a teacher is...?
Always teach with love and understanding. As teachers, we must ensure that our students acquire the skills they need in life. Everything that we tell them is important, and we must be sure that they have assimilated all the knowledge that we pass on.
What difficulties do you usually face at work?
Sometimes our work is difficult, because every student is different. Don't forget that not everyone learns at the same pace, and sometimes we can, without realizing it, leave behind those who just need a little more attention. The biggest difficulty that can arise, in addition to the all-too-familiar issues with online teaching, is that if someone falls behind, it can slow down the learning process for the entire group.
What does a working day look like for you?
I usually work on Saturdays. I have three lessons per day. The online teaching format allows me to conduct lessons for people from different parts of the country.
Classes start at 8:00 and end at 15:00. Of course, I prepare in advance for each lesson, put together a plan, and get my materials together.
Is it easy to teach online lessons?
Not always. Children need to be constantly guided and motivated, as well as given help so that they don't give up entirely when they first face a challenge. The difficulty of online learning is that it is sometimes more difficult to hold a student's attention. Although it rarely happens, the kids do sometimes get distracted.
What motivates and inspires you?
I am inspired by the students' interest. It's really good to see them absorbing the knowledge and wanting to learn more. It means that it's not all in vain. Each student is a whole world, and you need to find an approach for each one.
What do you like about teaching?
I like helping people develop. I keep in touch with my former students and take pleasure in their successes as if they were my own. However, in some ways, they are also my successes, as they show that I was able to convey to them the necessary knowledge and lay the necessary foundation. When I talk about success, I don't mean just a career.
After all, we pass on our values to our students so that they become good people and contribute to the development of our society.
How should you properly motivate students?
Encourage them, tell them what they are capable of and that they can learn anything they dream of. In one of the groups, at the beginning of the course, only one student was very motivated and engaged. I managed to construct the educational process in such a way as to motivate all the students at once, so that everyone has the opportunity to become an excellent programmer.
Modern children are surrounded by information technology from birth, and they have access to a huge amount of information online. Today, information technology is part of a very interesting ecosystem that allows people to exchange skills and stimulates progress. It is very important to teach children how to use this resource correctly, which will help them in the future.
What do you think of the BeginIT project?
It's a great project for children who are just starting their journey in the field of information technology. Your project is geared towards children who enjoy coding, and it helps them develop these skills, which will benefit them in the future.
What are your plans for the future?
I hope to continue working on the BeginIT project. Also, in addition to my professional growth, I want to become a full stack developer of banking structures and to support administrative processes.
What advice would you give to future teachers and students? Is there anything that you'd like to wish for your colleagues and the project's members?
The BeginIT project learning platform provides participants with a variety of learning tools. However, personal communication is also important, although it is difficult to implement in the current situation. It is important that each participant feels like an integral part of the educational process and can interact with their classmates without losing the spirit that arises from face-to-face classroom interaction and personal communication.
We'd like to thank Juliana for a fascinating interview and for the contribution she has made to our project!